I've heard about a meme floating around the internets that poses a challenge: if you only had 12 hours to spend in the area where you live now, what would you do? The very first thing I would do?
Run the Quad Cities Marathon.
Running this course was a spectacular way to see some of the most beautiful parts of the area where I live. Even when I was hurting the most, I worked hard to take it in and enjoy myself. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's rewind to Saturday, the day before the race.
Some of the best marathon advice I have read is to get a good night's sleep two nights before the race. The night before, you can count on being nervous and antsy, so there may be nothing you can do to sleep well. But two nights before, you can bank some sleep. That's what I did. Then, the boys and I drove around the course so that Steve could determine the best cheering spots for my support crew.
After that, it was time to go to the race expo - and for Jack to run the Kids' Micromarathon. I bought two new Bondi Bands (I love my first one so much that I was spending a crazy amount of time washing it), a very cool windbreaker in red with the race logo on the back, and a cowbell for Jack. While I was there, I went ahead and joined our the Cornbelt Running Club, a local group I've been meaning to sign up with. As a bonus, I got a logo coffee mug from them.
The rest of the family - my mom, my stepdad, and my brother (who came in to run the marathon as well) arrived in time to watch Jack run. Jack's race was a quarter mile, which is the longest race he's ever run. A quarter mile is a really long way when you're only three, but I knew he could do it. Jack even asked Steve to just watch, rather than run with him. Jack did awesome. He tore up that course with the biggest smile on his face. I ran along the sidelines so I could cheer for him and was very impressed when he turned on the speed at the end and passed a bunch of kids. That's my boy!
Back at Stately Wasser Manor, we enjoyed a pre-race carb dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, salad, bread, and my mom's homemade apple crisp for dessert. I actually slept pretty well, despite a bad dream in which I couldn't find a place to park and missed the start of the race.
Race morning, Andy and I had coffee and bagels, then headed to the race. I love the energy at the starting line. You're surrounded by runners, and there is a delicious anticipation about everything. I found the 4:30 pace group, took my place, and when the gun went off, I found myself thinking, "This is it! I'm running a marathon!"
To be continued...